TELL ME ABOUT IT

Friday - - Editor’s Letter - Mri­nal Shekar Deputy Ed­i­tor mshekar@gulfnews.com

Many decades ago, my fa­ther went to Hawaii on a busi­ness trip. All by him­self at the ho­tel one evening, not know­ing how best to ex­plore the is­land state, he picked up the tele­phone direc­tory, flipped through it and came across a name that caught his in­ter­est. Feel­ing half-ap­pre­hen­sive and half-ad­ven­tur­ous, he de­cided to give the gen­tle­man a call. Be­fore the man on the other end could bang down the phone, call­ing him all kinds of names for what seemed like a prank call, my old man hur­riedly in­tro­duced him­self. Cu­ri­ous to ex­pe­ri­ence Hawaii through the eyes of a lo­cal, he asked the gen­tle­man if he’d like to join him for din­ner. To my fa­ther’s sur­prise, he said yes, and what hap­pened next, as they say, is his­tory.

The gen­tle­man was not only gen­er­ous with his hospi­tal­ity but he also gave my fa­ther an in­sight into the place that no map or guide book could. The two went on to build a

What the In­ter­net LACKS is the abil­ity to cre­ate a GLOBAL VIL­LAGE free of PREJ­U­DICE. That hap­pens only when we make the EF­FORT to know the per­son be­hind a FACE through true, HON­EST con­ver­sa­tion

bond that de­vel­oped into a long, warm friend­ship through which two in­di­vid­u­als, who lived on ei­ther side of the world with noth­ing much in com­mon, ex­changed notes on fam­ily, friends, hol­i­days and all that stuff men talk about, and, in the process, busted their own con­strict­ing per­cep­tions of each other’s worlds.

To the mil­len­ni­als, this anec­dote might come across as shock­ing – who does this in this age when a stranger is made out to be a bo­gey­man? Plus, there’s the In­ter­net; Mr Know It All, which has an­swers to ev­ery ques­tion, doubt or dilemma.

But what the In­ter­net lacks, iron­i­cally, is the abil­ity to cre­ate a global vil­lage free of prej­u­diced sen­ti­ments and parochial mind­sets. That hap­pens only when we make the ef­fort to know the per­son be­hind a face through true, hon­est con­ver­sa­tion.

This is where sim­ple yet bril­liant ini­tia­tives like The Hu­man Li­brary play a vi­tal role. They pro­vide a plat­form where two peo­ple from ei­ther side of the cul­tural, so­cial, or eco­nomic spec­trum can start a mean­ing­ful con­ver­sa­tion that frees them of un­war­ranted as­sump­tions. Read more about it on page 32 and let me know what you think.

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